Student-run website sheds light on many important issues

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Student-run website sheds light on many important issues

Ellen Zhang waits patiently to speak with congressmen Jamie Raskin regarding gun control in order to get his take on the issue.

Ellen Zhang waits patiently to speak with congressmen Jamie Raskin regarding gun control in order to get his take on the issue.

Courtesy of Ellen Zhang

Ellen Zhang waits patiently to speak with congressmen Jamie Raskin regarding gun control in order to get his take on the issue.

Courtesy of Ellen Zhang

Courtesy of Ellen Zhang

Ellen Zhang waits patiently to speak with congressmen Jamie Raskin regarding gun control in order to get his take on the issue.

By Emily Zhang, News Editor

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From the captivating design of the website to the inspiring articles on humanitarian crises, a student run website named 2 am post, strives to bring global awareness to today’s most pressing issues. 

Initially, 2 am post was started by WCHS junior Ellen Zhang and her brother Justin Zhang, after months of planning, on March 26, 2018. 

2 am post was started after Zhang got the inspiration from a series of documentaries on YouTube. She was horrified by the tragedies that were happening in the world that she had not known about before. 

“I remember being completely mortified and angry after watching the topics covered in the documentaries,” Zhang said. “I never knew there was a codeine cough syrup epidemic in Zimbabwe, I never knew there was a humanitarian crisis in Congo, I never knew there were Native Americans, living on reservations in America, being deprived of basic necessities. That is why a crucial part of our mission is to shed light on issues that have been underreported by larger media corporations and are almost unknown to the public.”

Zhang built on the idea of bringing a spotlight on crises around the world by creating a website where she could upload articles on topics she was genuinely passionate about. 

“Our initial staff consisted of just me and my brother,” Zhang said. “We did everything from promotions on Instagram to writing and editing each others’ articles. However, since 2018, we have expanded to 9 members. Six of our members are writers, including an international writer from Belgium.”

The website’s name, 2 am post, has a background that gives a glimpse about what the website is about. The name idea came to mind after thinking about how the website hopes to impact readers. 

“When I think of 2 am, I think of peace: everyone is asleep and silent,” Zhang said. “However, I also think of the unconventional, eccentric and fresh ideas that spur from this moment of tranquility. The distinct process at 2 am is actually closely tied to our non-profit’s intent: to make people deviate from the typical and (often times) subconscious ‘selfish’ way of thinking, and influence them to think about and actively pursue aiding those in need.”

WCHS junior Lauren de Silva joined 2 am post after learning about the topics the blog focuses on. She likes how 2 am post is primarily run by highschoolers that are all passionate about the same things. 

“My favorite thing about 2 am post is that all of the articles are super accessible to everyone,” de Silva said. “All of our articles are easy to read, down to the point and extremely informative.”

Throughout the process of crafting an article, writers get the opportunity to improve their writing skills. Each article takes about an hour and a half to write not including the many hours of research needed to be done before hand. 

“I have most definitely seen my writing skills improve,” de Silva said. “I see myself writing with more ease than before. Before it would take a long time for me to formulate sentences that actually sounded good, but now after consistently writing I have found that I can just write without hesitation. I also believe my writing has improved in the sense that I can write in a more concise manner without ranting on and on.”

Zhang also mentioned that leading a team of writers has taught her how to be a more effective leader. Not only does she send out monthly emails with assignments to her writers, she has learned how to take criticism and feedback from her audience and improve.

“From what I have experienced, being an effective leader doesn’t just mean setting strict deadlines for articles, it also means putting yourself in other people’s shoes and allowing everyone to share their opinion respectively,” Zhang said. “In addition, I have definitely learned that doing work to help those in need is not all sunshine and rainbows. When your work is extremely reliant on social media and the internet, there will always be hateful comments. The most important part is to not take those comments to heart, and instead, use constructive, not hateful, criticism to seek improvement.”

Some of 2 am post’s best articles are “Current Affairs in Kashmir”, “A land of No Privacy”, and “Child labor in the Chocolate Industry.” de Silva said that she especially enjoyed writing about the “Focusing on the Good” series. 

“This series is really different from the other articles we write because these focus on all of the amazing advancements that have really benefited our world,” de Silva said. “It’s really easy to focus on all of the crises that are going on in the world, but not often enough do we actually hear about all of the astonishing advancements that people have worked endlessly to make.This series is a fresh breath away from the dark and saddening stories of other countries. And I do believe that reading ‘Focusing On the Good’ gives us hope that there are still amazing things to come.”

In the future 2 am post hopes to expand to even towards even wider horizons. The team has also been working on new projects and applying to become an official non-profit and hope to reach an audience of 1,000 people in the near future. 

“We would like to increase the legitimacy of our organization by upgrading our website domain and becoming an official 501(c)(3) non-profit organization,” Zhang said. “We are currently working on launching our BeHeard campaign, which features small non-profit organizations that are doing impactful work to help those in need. We have already conducted 5 interviews with organizations in Africa, the UK, Australia and the local DC area to promote for our campaign.” 

Through the 2 am post readers can become more knowledgeable about the small world that we live in, and hopefully positively impact the communities around us and help those in need. 

“Almost all the time, the people that are affected by these crisis have no one to lean on for support,” Zhang said. “As someone who is fortunate enough to have access to resources that can help those in need, I feel that it is only right for me to utilize those resources.”